This week’s Burrata Romesco Bow Tie Pasta Salad combines the elegant decadence of Italian cheesemaking with the robust flavors of Spain to create a summer salad that is savory, delicious and easy to prepare.

Burrata is a ball of mild, semi-soft Italian cheese packed in water. The ball is actually a pouch of fresh mozzarella cheese that encases a lush center oozing with cream and strands of soft cheese curds. Mellow, rich and creamy, burrata is the perfect complement to the bold romesco flavors.

Burrata cheese embraces the elegant decadence of Italian cheesemaking and features a fresh mozzarella shell encasing a lush and creamy center. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Burrata cheese embraces the elegant decadence of Italian cheesemaking and features a fresh mozzarella shell encasing a lush and creamy center. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

While often difficult to find in our local market, I was delighted to discover that the West Fargo Hornbacher’s carries burrata in their specialty cheese section. If you can’t find burrata, you can substitute with fresh mozzarella balls, ideally the kind packed in water.

Romesco is a bold and savory sauce created centuries ago by fishermen in the Catalonia region of Spain. Typically served as a condiment with seafood, like our Maryland Crab Cakes, it functions here as the dressing for the pasta salad. We have also enjoyed romesco sauce with grilled chicken, steak, raw vegetables and bread.

Romesco sauce is the boldly flavored dressing in this pasta salad. This traditional Spanish condiment is made with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, stale bread and almonds. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Romesco sauce is the boldly flavored dressing in this pasta salad. This traditional Spanish condiment is made with roasted red peppers, tomatoes, stale bread and almonds. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Romesco is traditionally made with a blend of roasted red peppers, charred tomatoes, stale bread and almonds. The bread serves as a thickening agent, and any day-old white bread will work (sliced bread, rustic artisan bread, dinner rolls, etc.).

Today’s recipe also includes vinegar (either red wine or sherry), garlic, smoked paprika, crushed red peppers, fresh parsley and seasoning.

Romesco sauce is a blend of roasted red peppers, almonds, garlic, fresh parsley, tomato, day-old bread, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and crushed red peppers. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
Romesco sauce is a blend of roasted red peppers, almonds, garlic, fresh parsley, tomato, day-old bread, red wine vinegar, salt, pepper, smoked paprika and crushed red peppers. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

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Normally, I would roast the red peppers and tomatoes myself, but lately it has been too hot to even fire up the grill. So, I cheated. I used a jar of roasted red peppers and an overripe heirloom tomato, increased the amount of smoked paprika and never looked back.

The romesco ingredients are blitzed together in a food processor or blender until well combined, and then, with the processor running, the extra-virgin olive oil is added in a slow, steady stream. This allows the sauce to properly emulsify and achieve a mostly smooth texture. The sauce can be made up to one week in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

A food processor is used to quickly blend the ingredients for the romesco sauce. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
A food processor is used to quickly blend the ingredients for the romesco sauce. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Farfalle is the noodle of choice for this salad, and its quirky, bow tie shape makes it perfectly suited for a thick sauce like romesco to settle into all the nooks and crannies. Other short noodles, like penne or rigatoni, would also work well.

As soon as the pasta is al dente, I drain it and rinse it with cold water to halt the cooking process so that it is ready to combine with the other ingredients. The noodles are tossed with the romesco sauce, as well as a hearty amount of cherry tomatoes, green olives and fresh spinach, and then indulgently topped with torn pieces of fresh burrata cheese.

The salad is best when made at least two hours in advance, and even better when prepared the day before serving so that the flavors can deepen and blend into each other.

This Burrata Romesco Bow Tie Pasta Salad has amazing flavor in every bite and requires no hot oven or grill, making it a great dish for these hot summer days. Stay cool and keep on cooking.

From the bold and tangy romesco sauce to the briny olives, sweet cherry tomatoes and stretchy, creamy burrata cheese, this bow tie pasta salad is oozing with flavor. Sarah Nasello / The Forum
From the bold and tangy romesco sauce to the briny olives, sweet cherry tomatoes and stretchy, creamy burrata cheese, this bow tie pasta salad is oozing with flavor. Sarah Nasello / The Forum

Burrata Romesco Bow Tie Pasta Salad

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Serves: 6 to 8

Romesco ingredients:

One 12-ounce jar of roasted red peppers (equal to 2 whole peppers)

1 medium ripe tomato, cored and quartered

½ cup slivered blanched almonds

½ cup fresh parsley, stems removed

1 cup crusty or stale bread, torn into pieces (any type of white bread or roll)

2 cloves garlic

1 ½ teaspoons smoked paprika

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper or ¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper (add more for spicier sauce)

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar (or sherry vinegar)

1 teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

½ cup extra-virgin olive oil

Salad ingredients:

1 pound farfalle (bow tie) pasta, cooked and cooled (or any short noodle like penne or rigatoni)

2 cups fresh baby spinach leaves, chopped into 1/2-inch-wide strips

1 ½ cups large green olives, pitted and sliced into rings about ¼-inch wide

2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved

8 ounces burrata cheese, drained well on paper towel

½ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon black pepper

Extra-virgin olive oil, for drizzling

Directions:

To prepare the sauce, place all the ingredients, except the olive oil, in the bowl of your food processor fitted with the blade attachment. Pulse until well combined and the almonds appear to be finely chopped. Taste and add seasoning as desired.

Turn on the processor and slowly add olive oil through the feeder tube until fully emulsified and the consistency is smooth and creamy. The sauce may be prepared up to 1 week in advance and refrigerated until ready to use.

To assemble the salad, in a large serving bowl, add the cooked and cooled pasta and cover with half of the romesco sauce. Toss until evenly distributed. Add the chopped spinach, olive rings, cherry tomatoes and remaining romesco sauce and toss again until incorporated.

Use your hands to tear the burrata cheese into pieces, scattering them over the top of the salad as you tear. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, then drizzle the olive oil lightly over the entire salad. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving, or even prepare a day in advance and refrigerate until ready to serve.

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“Home with the Lost Italian” is a weekly column written by Sarah Nasello featuring recipes by her husband, Tony Nasello. The couple owned Sarello’s in Moorhead and lives in Fargo with their son, Giovanni. Readers can reach them at sarahnasello@gmail.com.